That's another trouting season over and its been an odd one with a very dry spring, wet summer and a very warm and dry start to autumn. A very large number of young brown trout were spotted during the season which hopefully will mature over the next couple of years to provide some more consistent success for those members who regularly trawl the river.
There are definitely some big fish in the pools below Horton as evidenced by their fondness for salmon flies and there does seem to be some indication that natural fly life is increasing slightly to keep these adult fish well fed.
It's still an ambition to get our native crayfish back into the river and efforts to secure funding to continue the project will be redoubled next year. We are so close to success that it would be a waste of much effort and past money if the project were not to be taken to a conclusion.
So, it's just salmon (if we get some water) and the Tarn residents now until the end of October. Then the fishery will slumber until March.
Well, it's the last day of the trout season tomorrow and with the river falling quickly in this glorious Indian summer the early morning may be the best chance of bagging a last minute brownie.
I was working in Settle all day yesterday so when lunch time came around we took the dogs for a swim down below Penny bridge. What an inviting spot this is for a keen fisherman. There was just enough water to wet a fly (and a couple of blond labs) and the trees on the far bank provided good shade and cover.
The swans seem to have taken a holiday away from the Tarn as they often do at this time of year. I surprised a heron that was hunting frogs in the wildlife area and he (or she) seemed most put out by my close approach making a complete hash of a running take off.
My plan is to wander up river tomorrow from Turn Dub and re set all the loose tree stakes on the bank side planting as far as the new bridge. They should then see out another winter. Most of the tubes are now sporting growth out of the top so in a couple more years we may have the beginning of some decent cover on this long beat.
I went up to the Dub first thing this morning and found the river in near perfect condition for a kick sample. This produced no real surprises. The river has an abundance of fly life here and the pattern over the last five years has hardly varied although there is just a hint that the numbers of larvae at each sample are slowly increasing. What was unusual this time was the large number of very small cased caddis that came to the net. By small I mean really small no more than a couple of mil at most needing a glass to confirm that they really were cased caddis. The cases were composed of minute grains of sand.
I'm no expert on the life cycle of caddis fly, but if these represent immature creatures that will grow on we should see a very good population of caddis at this site next season.
It's a glorious day here with the promise of even better weather tomorrow and Thursday. The river is lowering, but still good for a final fling at the brownies.
I did the invert check at New Inn yesterday morning. All is fine, in fact a look back over 5 years of records for this site shows a small, but perceptible increase in riverfly numbers. I got a good few caddis on this check which is unusual for this site. It's any ones guess why this should be, but a wet summer with plenty of well oxygenated water and fairly low temperatures may be one answer.
I went up to the Dub first thing this morning to do the check there more in hope than expectation. My fears were well founded as I found the Dub overflowing with last nights deluge and the river far too high for safe wading. With the summer arriving at long last this week I should get the check done tomorrow.
Members visiting the Tarn this week will notice a change to the lodge. It has a new roof. A very smart job it is too in glass fibre. This is thanks to the generosity of Gavin and should see us all through to that happy fishing ground in the sky.
Following on from my comments yesterday about sparrow hawks, I was standing at the kitchen sink this morning contemplating the washing up when I spotted a magpie down on the wire that tops the dry stone wall enclosing the croft. This seemed agitated and bounced up and down shrieking so I got the field glasses for a closer look to see what was exciting it. Just as I raised the glasses to my eye a sparrow hawk swooped down and the magpie flew up to meet it and began a brief mid air skirmish before both landing back on the wire and engaging in a noisy stand off. I had no idea that these birds would fight and had assumed that they normally ignored each others presence. I've no idea what the battle was about, there was no evidence of any kill when I went to look later.
We may be in for a late summer this week with much sun and some unseasonal warmth. I'm not counting chickens yet especially after the dismal summer that we just endured.
Off early tomorrow to do the September invert check at New Inn so more on this tomorrow.
Its not been a bad day for once, in fact we had some pleasant sunshine late this afternoon and with barely a breath of wind it felt quite warm. Just right for a member who travelled up from the south with a guest for a weekend's sport on the Tarn and river.
Conditions may hold up quite well for the last few days of the trouting season as damper conditions are forecast for tomorrow and Sunday with brighter weather at the start of the working week.
I was standing in my breakfast room yesterday morning watching the sparrows busy feeding and fighting round the nut feeders when a shadow shot across the window followed by what looked like a heap of buff feathers. This heap resolved into a sparrow hawk which hauled itself off the back lawn where it had crash landed and sat looking sheepish on the dry stone wall at the back of the house. By this time the flock of sparrows had long gone so it shook itself and took off westwards towards Ingleborough. It's the closest view I have yet had of this rather handsome raptor and I guess a rather too close view for my resident sparrows.
The sky seems empty now without the swallows which have now all departed. So far I have had no sight or sound of that soundtrack to autumn , the curlew. It can't be long now before that bubbling, rather lonesome call is heard over Horton as the leaves are now falling fast from the giant sycamore in the lower garden and I'm busy with the lawnmower picking them up.
Its been a dry day for a change and a chance to play catch up with a number of jobs delayed because of the persistent rain that's fallen here for days. As a result I haven't visited the Tarn today so fired up the web cam for a look this evening just as the cloud over Ingleborough broke up to let through shafts of red gold light. The picture was stunning. The water every shade on the palette, from purple through to silver with a golden haze blurring the fells in the distance. Not a ripple disturbed the surface and the resident trout were keeping their heads down.
The river is well off good salmon conditions now and unlikely to improve over the next few days as we seem set for a spell of dry and bright weather for a change. I am aiming to get done the invert check for this month on Thursday so that might well put the kibosh on the weather.
Panorama was thought provoking last evening as it dealt with the chronic shortage of water in those little counties down south. The impact of water abstraction is having a severely detrimental impact on the chalk streams by reducing flow and allowing silt to build up. Time for a spot of joined up thinking. It's imperative that planning guidance ensures that all development proposals are assessed against strict water usage criteria as well as other infrastructure and service requirements. We can't keep throwing up houses without clear water supply and management plans otherwise we will lose our unique chalk streams. I'm surprised that the ancient and revered angling clubs on the Test, Kennet and Avon are not manning the barricades. Perhaps they are, but the media as well as our political masters are ignoring them.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness really sums up conditions here this morning. I was up at the Tarn first thing in a world shrouded in dense fog. The sheep in Tarn pasture moved in and out of sight like ghosts to a soundtrack provided by the moorhens who called to each other across the water.
Mushrooms will be emerging now so a visit to the cow field in search of big field fungus is a plan for later this morning.
We had a lot of heavy showers yesterday which have kept the river in good salmon water. The wind has fallen away now and the flood is falling back quickly so today may give the best chance for salmon as the next couple of days are forecast to be dry and sunny.